Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Ex-Goldman banker ordered to pay $9m on money laundering charges

Goldman Sachs emphasised that its former employee's criminality took place years after his departure from the firm.

Mr Preko left the investment bank in 2001 when it refused to act for the Nigerian official who was later convicted for corruption. REUTERS
Mr Preko left the investment bank in 2001 when it refused to act for the Nigerian official who was later convicted for corruption. REUTERS

A former Goldman Sachs investment banker convicted of laundering money for a Nigerian official was ordered to pay £7.3 million ($9 million) within three months or face a 10-year jail sentence.

A court in London made a confiscation order on Monday against Ellias Nimoh Preko, 60, for laundering millions of dollars for James Ibori, the former governor of Nigeria’s Delta State, the UK’s National Crime Agency said in a statement on Friday.

“Professional enablers such as Ellias Preko, who use their legitimate position within the finance industry to conceal the illicit funds of criminals and corrupt elites, are the linchpin of the billions of dollars laundered through the U.K each year,” according to Kim Kitney, head of financial investigations for the NCA.

A lawyer who acted for Mr Preko as recently as last year said he no longer represented him and couldn’t share his former client’s details.

The amount of the confiscation order is far higher than those imposed on bankers convicted of insider trading and market manipulation. Former Citigroup trader Tom Hayes, who was found guilty of masterminding a sprawling rate-rigging conspiracy, was told to pay just £880,000. Former Deutsche Bank star trader Christian Bittar, who was jailed on similar grounds, paid £2.5 million. Ex-Deutsche Bank insider trading convict Martyn Dodgson had to pay £1.1 million.

Mr Preko, a Ghanaian national who dealt with West African clients for Goldman Sachs, left the investment bank in 2001 when it refused to act for Mr Ibori, who was then the governor of the oil rich province, “due to suspicions and risk” associated with him, the NCA said. Mr Preko then started working with Mr Ibori personally and set up a number of corporate vehicles in which Mr Ibori received $3.9 million in funds stolen from Delta State, the agency said.

In an emailed statement, Goldman Sachs emphasised that Mr Preko’s criminality took place years after his departure from the firm.

In 2012, Mr Ibori, who was in office from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty in a London court to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering involving sums of at least £50 million. He served half of a 13-year prison sentence.

In 2013, Mr Preko was convicted of two counts of money laundering and later sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail. Mr Ibori’s wife, mistress, sister and a lawyer were also convicted in the UK for assisting the politician’s corruption.

Ava Lee, a senior campaigner at anti-corruption group Global Witness, said the the ruling was a wake-up call, showing that actions have consequences.

“For far too long London’s ‘pinstripe army’ of bankers, lawyers and accountants have been enabling and profiting from the kind of corruption that keeps poor countries poor and drives global instability,” Ms Lee said.

Updated: September 6, 2019 05:45 PM

SHARE

SHARE